Jason Holder: Worcestershire sign former West Indies skipper for opening five games

Jason Holder
Jason Holder was the youngest ever West Indies captain when he took over in 2015 at the age of 23 [Getty Images]

Promoted Worcestershire have signed ex-West Indies skipper Jason Holder for the opening five County Championship games on their return to Division One.

The 32-year-old Barbados all-rounder is scheduled to make his Pears debut against neighbours Warwickshire at Edgbaston next Friday.

Holder will also play in the away games with Nottinghamshire and Kent.

They come either side of the two home games with Durham and Somerset at temporary home Kidderminster.

Holder's arrival comes on the same day the club announced batter Kashif Ali has agreed a new contract until 2027.

Kashif, 26, became the first member of the South Asian Cricket Academy (SACA) to sign a contract for a first-class county when he joined the Pears on a two-year deal in 2022.

He scored 114 on his List A debut in the One-Day Cup that year against Kent and fell seven runs short of a maiden red-ball century in the final game of last season at Yorkshire as Worcestershire clinched their return to Division One.

"I want to keep on improving and believe that can happen at Worcestershire to whom I will always be grateful for giving me a chance in first-class cricket," Kashif said.

"The aim is to be at the top of my game and be as consistent as possible in all formats and kick on as much as possible during the next four years.

"But the initial aim is to try and play as big a part as possible in helping the team establish themselves in Division One of the County Championship."

Holder set for second stint in county cricket

Holder has had one previous experience of country cricket when he joined Northamptonshire for the first month of the 2019 season and played in two Championship games and five One-Day Cup matches.

He will be the Pears' second overseas player in Championship cricket following the acquisition of New Zealander Nathan Smith.

They also have Smith, who finished as the leading wicket-taker this winter in New Zealand's domestic Plunket Shield competition, and Pakistan spinner Usama Mir signed up to play in the T20 Blast.

"When someone of Jason's experience and quality becomes available, even for a short window, we just had to jump at it," said Worcestershire chief executive Ashley Giles.

"We know on the field as a cricketer he is a world class all-rounder but, off the field, he is a world class individual as well.

"We are also aware that starting the season well is going to be important to us and having him in our line-up can only help that.

"Just having someone of his quality when you take to the field gives you a big lift.

"You are back in Division One, you know it's going to be tough, and you can only be better if you've got Jason Holder in that line-up. He has a big presence."